Liam Smith dominates Jessie Vargas, ending it in 10
New York, NY — Jessie Vargas promised he would wipe the smile off of Liam “Beefy” Smith’s face during their pre-fight weigh-in on Friday.
Maybe it’s why Smith smiled after each round, because there was nothing Vargas was able to do about it.
Smith (32-3-1, 18 knockouts) systematically took Vargas (29-4-2, 11 KOs) apart, stopping him in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round junior middleweight bout on the Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano undercard on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
In the first round it was Smith playing the role of stalker, and smashing Vargas square in the face with a right in the closing seconds of the round. After two, Smith appeared in command.
Vargas could do little but grab and try to be effective from outside. He touched Smith, but most of those taps were on Smith’s gloves. With 1:20 left in the third, the heavily partisan Smith crowd began chanting for Smith, who showed he was listening, because he seemed to heighten his attack and had Vargas trapped against the ropes in the last 40 seconds.
With 1:16 left in the fourth, Smith popped Vargas with a right uppercut, with Vargas’ back against the ropes again. But Vargas managed to fire back some counters off the ropes, catching Smith and opening a cut on his right eye. Vargas, meanwhile, was dealing with a cut on his left eye.
By the fifth, both fighter’s white trunks took on a pinkish hue. Smith kept using the right to attack the cut on Vargas’ left eye, and he made sure he finished the round smiling in Vargas’ face, a dare Vargas had to Smith during their heated weigh-in.
Smith dominated the first half of the sixth round. He kept using the overhand right, mixed in with left and right uppercuts. Smith seemed to have Vargas in real trouble in the final 10 seconds of the sixth.
The Brit once more ended the round with a smile on his face and yelled to his fans as he returned to his corner after the round.
The seventh round followed the theme of the first six. Smith crowded Vargas, who was getting slammed through his high guard with cleaving uppercuts. To that point, it was an incredibly dominating performance by Smith.
Smith started the eighth well, hitting Vargas at will. He could not help but hit Vargas with every punch he threw.
Referee Steve Willis began looking in closely as Smith pounded on Vargas, who could not do anything to hold Smith off of him.
It was reaching a point where Vargas’ corner had to start thinking about ending it.
Vargas’ white short were growing as red as his waist band. With 45 seconds left in the ninth, an attacking Smith, behind left hooks to the body and head, had Vargas reeling backward, taking more punishment. Willis began looking in again.
In the opening minute of the 10th, Vargas’ corner, with all-time great Nonito Donaire working his corner, saw enough and waved it over at the same time Willis intervened.
The end officially came at :41 of the 10th.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.